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Model enthusiast obtains bird’s eye view of floods
Published 26/12/12

AN amateur photographer from Remenham had a unique view of the floods.

Russell Cleaver, 32, used a hexacopter, a remote-controlled model aircraft, to hold his camera as it took aerial pictures of the flooded land in and around Henley after the River Thames burst its banks.

Mr Cleaver, who built the £2,000 model himself, said: “You get to see the world from a totally different perspective.

“You can’t see the extent of the flooding as well as you can from the sky. It was quite shocking, especially in Sonning.”

The 4kg hexacopter runs on two lithium polymer batteries that last 12 minutes together and its altitude is determined by a flight controller. The legal ceiling for flying model aircraft is 400ft.

The machine is fitted with a GPS navigation system and also has a timer that makes it land automatically when battery power is low.

Mr Cleaver’s Sony NEX-5N camera takes a picture automatically every 10 seconds and he can see the camera’s view through goggles using a video transmitter.

He said: “I’ve been into radio-controlled models for 10 years. Years ago, we used to strap our mobile phones to toy aeroplanes but we’ve come a long way since then.

“I’ve had the hexacopter for a year and have taken aerial photos of all sorts of places. I look at the images when it’s back on the ground and pick the best of the bunch.

“My favourite view is probably Temple Island — it looks pretty good from above.”

Mr Cleaver is married to Kelly, 24, who is housekeeper at children, Dylan, two, and Cameron, five, who are already showing an interest in their father’s hobby. He said: “Dylan is obsessed with radio-controlled helicopters but he’s still too young.

“It’s very difficult for anyone to just grab a control and fly one of these. When it’s facing away from you the orientation is something you have to get used to.”

Mr Cleaver, a gardener at Johnson Matthey’s technology centre in Sonning Common, said he would like to make a living from aerial photography.

He said: “Eventually I would like to make it a job but at the moment it’s a hobby more than anything. Flying radio-controlled models is my favourite past-time but wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to make a living from something you enjoy so much?

“It’s a peaceful environment and a good place to get away from it all but also something I can do with my children.

“I’m now in the position where I can do jobs if people want me to take photos for them.”

Mr Cleaver is a member of Caversham Indoor Helicopter Club and is insured by the British Model Flying Association. To contact him, email elevatedperspective@hotmail.co.uk

Published 26/12/12

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